Room for the River: What the River Scientist Had to Say

Nov. 25, 2014

Updated Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, with a link to the video of the lecture by Mathias Kondolf.

More than 100 people gathered last Friday evening to hear Mathias Kondolf speak about rivers, river restoration, and the state of Buffalo Bayou at the Assembly Hall of St. Theresa Memorial Park Catholic Church.

Kondolf is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, a world-renowned river scientist, and a leading critic of the destructive and often-failing methods proposed for a $6 million “erosion control” and “bank stabilization” project on Buffalo Bayou. He spoke for nearly two hours to a crowd that included people on all sides of a controversial project to bulldoze the riparian forest and dredge and channelize nearly 1.5 miles of one of the last natural stretches of the bayou in the city.

The project, known as the Memorial Park Demonstration Project, was conceived by the Bayou Preservation Association, which actively promotes the plan. The Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether to issue a permit to the Harris County Flood Control District for the project.

Riparian forest or buffer, also called a riparian zone, consists of specially adapted trees and plants along the edge of a waterway. Among the many important functions of riparian zones are protecting the land from erosion, filtering pollution, cleansing the water, slowing flood water, and providing wildlife and human habitat.

Kondolf had spent hours inspecting the bayou in the rain earlier in the day. The project area is bounded entirely on the south by the River Oaks Country Club golf course, which is currently being renovated. The north bank of the project is our public Memorial Park, along with the Hogg Bird Sanctuary and some private property. Taxpayers are contributing $4 million to this project.

Read the rest.

Professor Mathias Kondolf on Buffalo Bayou, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Photo by Jim Olive.

Professor Mathias Kondolf on Buffalo Bayou, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Photo by Jim Olive.

Riparian Buffers: What Are They Good For?

A workshop in Houston, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, about the benefits of riparian buffers.

Nov. 6, 2014

Let’s hope they discuss the importance of riparian buffer right here on Buffalo Bayou.

Speakers include representatives from Texas Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Texas Water Resources Institute—and Harris County Flood Control, which plans to demonstrate erosion control by ripping up riparian buffer on the bayou. Should be an interesting workshop.

Sponsored by the Houston Galveston Area Council. 10 am to 12 pm, 3555 Timmons Lane, Suite 120, H-GAC Conference Room A, Second Floor.

Here’s how to sign up.

Here’s an example of what happens to landowners who raze the riparian buffer on their property. The lovely River Oaks property featured below once had riparian forest protecting its sloping banks on Buffalo Bayou. The new owner built a new house and cut down the buffer, likely for the view of the river, and planted grass.

The photo on the left was taken at base flow (low water) on July 12, 2014. The photo on the right was taken, also at low flow, from the same angle although slightly farther away on Oct. 24, 2014.

This property is immediately adjacent to the project area where the Harris County Flood Control District and the Bayou Preservation Association plan to demonstrate erosion control to property owners on Buffalo Bayou by eliminating the riparian buffer. The project is known as the Memorial Park Demonstration Project.

The same property on Oct. 24, 2014. Photo taken slightly farther away but from the same angle.

The same property on Oct. 24, 2014. Photo taken farther away but from the same angle and approximately same water level.

Riparian forest buffer was cut down and replaced by grass on this sloping property on Buffalo Bayou in River Oaks. Photo taken July 12, 2014.

Riparian forest buffer was cut down and replaced by grass on this sloping property on Buffalo Bayou in River Oaks. Photo taken July 12, 2014.

« Previous Page